How to Conduct Great Second Interviews

May 29, 2019

The “interview intuition” from first interviews with candidates always needs a litmus test. That’s why we are strong advocates of asking final candidates back for a second interview before making a final decision.
I find that the best hires are very rarely one person’s decision. They are the result of consensus from multiple people in different areas in the practice. Unless you are a solo physician who is hiring your first employee, it’s important to involve more than just the physician and manager in the interview process. When multiple team members meet with candidates, they ask a wider variety of questions, enabling a wider feedback footprint.
The second interview also provides relaxed environment for the candidate. And when people relax a bit, their tongue gets a bit looser, opening the chance you will see more of the real person behind the curtain.
Here are five ways to be successful with the second interview.

1. Prepare.

Review your notes from the first round of interviews to refresh on your initial impression. I think it’s smart to discuss these notes with others on the team to find out how they perceive your impression. Use this feedback to develop a set of questions and determine who will ask what.
Look at the schedule and identify 20-25 minute blocks of time for each staff person who will be involved in the second interview process. This is important for minimizing the disruption of everyone’s work. Avoid the temptation to “go with the flow” during the day and simply pass the candidate from one person to the next.

2. Recap then go deeper.

Typically, the candidate will talk first with the manager before meeting with individual staff. Begin that conversation by recapping some of what was discussed and learned in the first interview. Then, move on to some of the questions you prepared as a team. These questions should go deeper than first round interviews. Below are a few we find useful. Remember to always make your questions open-ended to encourage conversation. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with “yes or no.”
• What are the first three things you would do if you were hired for this role?
• Tell me how you handle projects and priorities that have the same deadline. How do you handle this?
• When you step onto a new team or into a new position, how would you describe the type of role you usually step into, naturally? Why do you think that is?
• Where do you see yourself in three years in our practice?
• Which of your current skills would you like to have a greater mastery of? If you were to be offered this role, how might you achieve that?

3. Ask each candidate to talk with three people.

These three should include a peer of the role the candidate is being considered for, a physician, and someone who would not work directly with the person. In addition to the interview with the manager, this creates a nice cross-section of the overall practice team.
If you are hiring for a manager or administrator role, it’s essential that two or three staff members interview each candidate. Involving employees in hiring their new boss is empowering, and can speed team buy-in to the person you hire because the staff were part of the process. After interviews are complete, schedule a debrief meeting of the physician(s) and all staff who interviewed candidates, to get their collective opinion.
Regardless whether the candidate is being considered for a manager or staff role, it’s important that each person chosen to interview him or her feels confident doing so, knows how to take good notes, and understands how to distill and report their impressions. Questions from the staff should focus on day-to-day activities and technical skills that someone in their role would need to know. For example, if the candidate is being considered for the billing office or a billing office supervisor, they could be asked to explain the specific steps for managing denials or prioritizing collection efforts.

4. Consider paying candidates for a “working interview.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Pay the candidate an amount equal to the role’s hourly wage to spend a few days in the practice. A working interview is a low cost way of figuring out if they are a good fit.
We have several clients who’ve taken this advice and told us the experience was extremely fruitful. The premise is simple: Ask candidates to show up for two days and work alongside a coworker. This is a brilliant way to learn a few things:
• Did the candidate show up on time?
• Was he or he appropriately dressed for the role?
• Did he or she ask good questions?
• Was the candidate engaged in the work? Did he or she appear to be a quick study when you explained aspects of the tasks or projects being observed?
You are watching for signs and signals that would not present themselves in a more formal, first interview. As a friend of mine likes to say, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them!”

5. Get the final details straight.

Before candidates leave, make sure you’ve communicated the date you’ll make your final decision, and verify the date the candidate can begin work. Discuss the salary range so you can verify it’s in line with what the person would accept, if an offer is made. And be sure you’ve collected all the information you’ll need to make a final decision and an offer. For example, make sure you have asked the candidate to sign a consent to perform a background check, if you require one. (And we highly recommend that you do.)


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